Wednesday, July 28, 2010

76-Second Travel Show: 'The Real Orlando'

Episode #040
F E A T U R I N G * 6 0 * B O N U S * S E C O N D S

I met up with a number of travel insiders recently and Orlando came up. 'Awful city.' 'Hate that place.' And around the circle went a chorus of dismissive nods of approval.

It's an easy reaction to a place famed for amusement parks (and I've shared it at times), but travel usually knows better. And when I went last month -- to attend the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter -- I stayed in town, and carved out time to see the city, and ask locals what the 'real Orlando' is. People like Bob Kealing, who wrote 'Kerouac in Florida,' about the beat writer's surprising connection with the Sunshine State. (Read Thomas Swick's excellent take on Kerouac's Orlando.)

And I liked it. A lot actually.


* 'Little Saigon' (or ViMi) around Mills and Colonial has excellent cheap Vietnamese restaurants -- as good as any I've had outside Vietnam.
* The 'naive art' of Earl Cunningham at the Mennello Museum, who painted scenes to scale of his interest (houses and people usually very small, birds very very BIG).
* The wee 'Milk District' at Robinson and Bumby has a handful of bars/eateries (great beer selection at the Social Chameleon) in the shadow of a milk processing plant.

Oh, and the Simpsons ride at Universal -- the best of all time.

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